Monday, January 11, 2010

Former Guantanamo Detainees Address Obama on Guantánamo Anniversary Today

From a Center for Constitutional Rights press release:

Human Rights Attorneys and Activists Hold Rally, March and Briefing to Demand Closure of Base and Oppose Preventive Detention in U.S.

January 11, 2010, Washington, D.C. – To mark the beginning of the ninth year of detention without charge or trial at Guantánamo on Monday, January 11, activists and lawyers of detained men will rally, march and hold a briefing to outline current issues related to President Obama’s Guantanamo, demand that the president make good on his pledge to close the prison, and declare their opposition to any plan for holding prisoners without charge or trial in the U.S.

Lakhdar Boumediene will call in to the 1:00pm briefing at the National Press Club from his home in France, and Omar Deghayes will join the briefing from his home in the United Kingdom. Mr. Boumediene was the lead plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case of 2008, Boumediene v. Bush, in which the Court affirmed that Guantànamo detainees have the right to file writs of habeas corpus in U.S. federal courts. He was released on May 15, 2009. Omar Deghayes settled with his family in the U.K. as a refugee from Libya when he was a child. Picked up in Pakistan and sent to Bagram and Guantánamo, he was blinded in one eye at the base in 2004. Mr. Deghayes was released from Guantanamo to the U.K. on December 19, 2007.

The briefing will also feature a statement from Mohammed Sulaymon Barre, released home to Somaliland on December 20, 2009. Mr. Barre said, “Hurry up and close this prison that has become a blot of shame upon all of America. Do it fast. Do it quickly.”

Schedule, January 11, 2010

11:45am Demonstration with street theater, signs, and speakers, announcement of 12-day fast, White House Plaza, between Lafayette Park and “picture postcard” zone

12:30pm Begin prisoner procession, a silent walk of more than 40 in detainee jumpsuits

1:00pm Press Briefing with the Center for Constitutional Rights and others: “Obama’s Guantánamo” at the National Press Club, 529 14th Street, Murrow Room 

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) will hold a press briefing featuring detainee lawyers and human rights activists at 1:00pm titled “Obama’s Guantánamo” to address issues that include continued and worsening lack of transparency, resettlement for men who cannot return to their home countries, the threat of indefinite detention schemes in the U.S., the halt of transfers to Yemen and related responses to the recent terrorism attempt, and more.

Vincent Warren, CCR Executive Director, Pardiss Kebriaei, CCR attorney for detainees, Frida Berrigan of Witness Against Torture, and Stacy Sullivan, Counterterrorism Advisor at Human Rights Watch will speak about the current situation and the challenges and dangers ahead.

Said CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren, “This is Obama’s Guantánamo now. He has failed in his pledge to close the island prison from a lack of leadership, bowing to the pressures of partisan grandstanding, and vigorous attempts to keep all cases out of the courts. The transparency we were promised has been discarded. This is an anniversary that should not have come.”

Earlier, members of Witness Against Torture (WAT) will rally in front of the White House at 11:45 a.m. to protest the lack of progress toward justice for detainees since Obama took office and demand true change from the administration. Speakers will announce a 12-Day Fast for Justice in Washington D.C., ending on January 22 – the Obama administration’s self-declared, and now-voided, deadline for closing Guantánamo.

After the demonstration, activists will stage a Guantánamo prisoner procession to the National Press Club.

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